– November 2004
Vol. X, No. 8
In Tiers of Glory
Review of Michael Rose’s book
by Helen Hull Hitchcock
"A church building is a vessel of meaning with the greatest of symbolic responsibilities: it must bear the significance of eternal truths through its material form in order to establish a sacred place destined for divine worship", writes Michael Rose in the Introduction to his latest book, In Tiers of Glory, The Organic Development of Catholic Church Architecture Through the Ages (2004. Cincinnati: Mesa Folio Editions, Aquinas Publishing, Ltd.)
Mr. Rose, an architect by training and a frequent contributor to the Adoremus Bulletin, is the author of two books on church architecture, The Renovation Manipulation and Ugly as Sin, as well as the best-selling Goodbye, Good Men.
In Tiers of Glory is a concise survey of the history of Church architecture, enhanced with copious color illustrations. The book’s eleven chapters begin with Old Testament precedents, and a journey through the history and tradition of church design through through two millennia follows. The author succinctly reveals, through his clear and accessible writing and a collection of well chosen illustrations, the history and tradition of church architecture and the continuity of church design — an organic development that, in his words, "manifests the permanence of the Catholic faith".
"Architects of present and future generations need to comprehend the historical language of church architecture in order to build permanent sacred edifices for their own times and future centuries", Rose writes. "No successful church architect can be — or even pretend to be — ignorant of the Church’s historical patrimony".
The penultimate chapter, "Breaking with the Past" will resonate with the many Catholics whose churches have been subjected to the new iconoclasm of the late twentieth century. The final chapter of the book, "The Wisdom of Hindsight", presented here, can give only a foretaste of the author’s latest contribution to a timely topic.
In Tiers of Glory provides a visually appetizing introduction to church architecture — one that will be especially instructive and engrossing to Catholics who are now facing renovations or new church building projects.
See "The Wisdom of Hindsight – The Restoration of Catholic Church Architecture" – final chapter of Michael Rose’s book, In Tiers of Glory